Taylor McKeown enjoys competing on the big stage.
Taylor McKeown enjoys competing on the big stage. Funkita Swimwear

Professional sport and when the pressure gets too much

PSYCHOLOGICAL health is profoundly important for Olympic silver medallist Taylor McKeown.

The 21-year-old from Kawana said she believed being mentally strong was just as important to being physically fit.

"I remember as a younger swimmer I didn't realise the anxiety I was experiencing was a negative thing," she said.

"It didn't become obvious for me until I was on the blocks at a national competition.

"It got to a point where it was affecting me physically."

Taylor said she took advice to seek the help of a sports psychologist who worked through what she was feeling due to the demands of competing at this level.

"I decided to give it a go and I'm so glad I made that move back then because it has really benefited my performance," she said.

"I used it for the first time before the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"I remember feeling very confident before that race because I knew I had prepared mentally and physically."

The stresses professional sports people face is rife in almost any level or code, from soccer to professional tennis.

Rugby league players are among those who experience this high pressure - the pressures to succeed, to be better or to make that representative side.

Sunshine Coast Falcons chief executive officer Chris Flannery said he ensured his club did everything it could to support their players.

The former National Rugby League player has experienced the pressures of professional sport firsthand.

"In rugby league we've seen quite a few instances recently where players have taken their life," he said.

"It's definitely something we've tried to improve in our club over the last few years.

"The QRL (Queensland Rugby League) is very active in promoting that there's help out there for the players.

"I want our players to know there's always someone here to talk to.

"I guess you never know whether you've saved someone."

National 24 hour Help Services

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78

beyondblue: 1300 22 46 36

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800